Women's bantamweights Alexis Davis and Liz Carmouche squared off in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for Troops 3" event on FOX Sports 1 from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Number four-ranked Carmouche came in off her technical knockout win over Jessica Andrade at UFC on FOX 8. Prior to that, she rose to fame as Ronda Rousey's first-ever opponent in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Davis, a highly experienced mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran, brought an incredible grappling skillset to the Octagon. Possessing black belts in both Brazilian and Japanese jiu-jitsu, many thought Davis' best way to win was a submission.
She proved those predictions wrong in Fort Campbell. Davis utilized an effective Muay Thai game to take Carmouche out of her comfort zone, scoring a huge win in the process.
Let's take a look back at Davis' surprising surgical brilliance at "Fight for Troops 3."
The fight began tentatively on the feet with both fighters looking to find their timing. Davis appeared to be the aggressor with some good kicks and Octagon control. Davis' low kicks kept scoring and Carmouche was wobbled. "Girl-rilla" was thoroughly beaten throughout the first frame after failing to mount any significant offense.
Davis came out aggressive again in the second, throwing effective combinations. Carmouche fought back with a hard overhand right that opened a big cut on Davis' eye. Undeterred, Davis continued to land hard low kicks. Carmouche's right leg was battered and her movement impaired. Davis took advantage of this by smothering "Girl-rilla" on the ground.
Carmouche was dropped by yet another leg kick. Davis pushed forward to grind her against the cage. A restart saw more of the same from Davis. Carmouche fought back with strikes of her own, but it was too little, too late. She went for a takedown and Davis avoided it with ease.
In the end, the result was rather clear and Davis was awarded a unanimous decision. Previously ranked number six, she stands to get a healthy rise up the rankings in what is quickly becoming a very talented division. Carmouche had more name recognition in last night's co-main event; Davis showed she had more skills.
If there was an area where Carmouche was thought to have advantage, it was most likely in the striking department. However, Davis showed she has a stand-up game that matches her proficient ground skills. Davis didn't ever look desperate to earn a takedown, preferring to throw precise leg kicks that negated most of Carmouche's power.
Her strategy was perfect. It caught Carmouche off guard in a big way. By the time "Girl-rilla" adjusted her stance to check the kicks, it was too late.
Carmouche will drop a couple spots in the rankings with the loss, but she'll most likely get a rebound fight against another top 10 fighter. Carmouche will undoubtedly be working on her striking defense, especially against low kicks. Carmouche has a ton of heart and power. She'll be back, but she might not ever contend for the title again. A fight against rising Amanda Nunes, who won on "Fight for Troops 3's" preliminary card, would make sense for her.
Alexis Davis showed an entirely new side to her overall game when she battered former title challenger Liz Carmouche with leg kicks. Has Davis established herself as a dark horse contender in the UFC women's bantamweight division?
For complete UFC Fight Night 31 results, including play-by-play of the entire fight card click here. For recaps, videos, highlights, commentary and more from Wednesday night's FOX Sports 1 event check out our "Fight for Troops 3" live story stream here.